People spend their days in office buildings, and you spend your days making sure those buildings are healthy and safe for them to work in. One big component of healthy buildings is the quality of the air, which can negatively impact how a person functions in an office setting. The term "Stale Air" has become a catch-all phrase for poor air quality, but it has no accurate definition- it's a casual reference to a set of air quality measures, including things like CO2, VOCs and Formaldehyde. In this article, we give a brief introduction to these 3 elements.
How is CO2 related to human breathing?
People are the main source of indoor CO2. The more people in a sealed indoor space, the higher the CO2 levels shoot up. Excess CO2 in the indoor environment hinders mental and physical performance, and effectively, acts like an indoor pollutant. Higher than recommended levels of carbon dioxide can cause people to feel drowsy, lose mental acuity and get headaches. According to American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), levels below 1000 ppm is indicative of a healthy indoor environment. This level of PPM can be accomplished by bringing in outside air to the people staying or working in the building, or by filtering and cleaning the air, as enVerid does with the molecular air cleaning technology in its HLR units. Additionally, any outside air brought for ventilation should meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Ongoing measurement of the level of CO2 helps ensure that the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC) are delivering good quality air.
What are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and how do they impact human health?
VOCs are organic compounds that evaporate at room temperature and are common in the indoor environment. The levels of VOC present indoor is typically much higher than VOC present outdoor. These volatile compounds originate from building materials, cleaning supplies, interior furnishing, people, food, and processes such as cooking, cleaning, printing and pesticide application. Breathing low level of VOCs for a long period of time makes symptoms worse for people suffering from asthma and results in dizziness, nausea and headaches. Long term exposure can even result in cancer, kidney damage, liver damage and failure of the central nervous system.
According to the IAQ index, VOC levels are classified into three different zones:
10 ppm or more = Poor or the red zone
1.0 < 10 ppm = Marginal or yellow zone
< 1.0 ppm = Good or green zone
Formaldehyde – the “F word” of Indoor Air Quality (#IAQ)
Formaldehyde is a colorless gas and any concentration of formaldehyde above 0.1 ppm can cause irritation of the respiratory tracts. The exposure through gas phase inhalation can cause nasal and lung cancer. In homes and offices, the major source of formaldehyde is pressed wood products, including particleboard, hardwood plywood paneling, fiber boards and medium density boards. Apart from these sources, formaldehyde finds its way through paper products, combustible devices (natural gas, tobacco smoke and kerosene), stiffeners, water repellents, wrinkle resisters, cosmetics, deodorants and fabric dyes. Finally, the secondary formation of the gas occurs in the air due to oxidation of VOCs and the reaction between ozone and alkenes. Formaldehyde is released easily at high humidity and warm temperatures.
enVerid's HLR 1000E has specifically designed sorbents to remove these molecular contaminants from indoor air. Find out more.